Jonathan Swift: Satirist and Irishman

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Jonathan Swift: Satirist and Irishman

Jonathan Swift is one of the most cutting satirists in the history of British literature. Born in 1667 in Dublin, Ireland seven months after his father's death, Swift had a difficult life. [5] He remained with his uncle throughout his childhood, attending Kilkenny School, the best education to be had in Ireland at the time. [4] He later, in 1682, went on to attend Trinity College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. [5] Several years later he was forced to leave Ireland due to political unrest and relocated to England, where he rejoined his mother and worked for William Temple for the next ten years. [4] In 1692, Swift earned a Master of Arts at Oxford. In 1694, Swift returned to Ireland and was ordained as a priest. [4]

Upon his return to Ireland, Swift became very involved in politics. He was an active Whig for many years. However, when Whig agenda went against the Church of England, Swift, a profoundly religious man, broke with the party. [4] He joined the Tory cause and employed his intelligence and writing skill in helping to fight for Irish rights. [4] Swift spent the rest of his life serving the church and writing a great deal of literature responding to society, political policy, and social conditions. His most famous works are listed below.

A Tale of a Tub ( 1704 ).

Battle of the Books ( 1704 ).

The Abolishing of Christianity ( 1708 ).

Meditation upon a Broomstick ( 1710 ).

Journal to Stella ( 1710-13 ).

Proposal for Correcting... the English Tongue ( 1712 ).

"Cadenus and Vanessa " ( 1713 ).

The Drapier's Letters ( 1724 ).

Gulliver's Travels ( 1726 ).

A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen

( 1729 ).

"The Day Of Judgment " ( 1731 ).

"Verses on the Death of Dr Swift " ( 1731 ).

Correspondence. Five Volumes. Edited by D. Nichol Smith. Oxford, 1963-65. [6]

All of Swift's works criticize the faults of mankind, uplifting virtue and common sense above all else. [4] His works question whether the progress of civilization and the behavior and values of society are truly advancements or just complex barbarianism. [4] He challenges his readers to think for themselves instead of accepting everything at face value.

Swift criticizes by employing the literary device called satire in which the author exposes folly or absurdity in the behavior of an authority or society.
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